Since we began rebuilding our computer program in 2012, we have been able to give out dozens of computers to our members at Fountain House with the help and support of the Cristina Foundation. Fountain House’s mission is to help adults living with serious mental illness move forward with their lives; whether that means gaining employment, going back to school, acquiring affordable housing, and even improving diet and exercise or making friends.
However, in this day and age, it is difficult to do any of these things without proper technology. The direction that the world is taking is one in which a person must know about online job searches, registering for classes online, typing up a resume, researching housing options, and even regaining friendships through platforms such as Facebook. To lead a life that reintegrates a member back into mainstream society, these skills tend to be very helpful. The glitch with this is, access to such technology can be quite an obstacle to many of our members, due to limited opportunities growing up, and very strict budgets while receiving government benefits. It is nearly impossible to buy a laptop; let alone know how to use it, without any help at all.
In come organizations such as the Cristina Foundation and Electronic Access. These organizations bring the opportunity of a lifetime to so many of our members. Not having a computer makes it nearly impossible to feel connected and capable in this world. Imagine trying to get a PhD without a computer! Or find a doctor nearby! Or complete mandatory online training for a new job! These issues rarely affect our members anymore. We are proudly at the point where a new member can walk in the door of Fountain House on their first day, and we are able to give them a computer immediately if they need one. In fact, not having enough suitcases for members to bring a machine home in stops us from giving out computers, instead of not having enough actual machines!
Once technology is in someone’s hands, the possibilities are endless. They can reach their goals with greater ease. They are empowered with a sense of control they have over their lives. They no longer need to find a library nearby, or borrow a friend’s computer, or do any and all research from a Smartphone. Life becomes more manageable; and aspirations become realities. Each member who receives a computer through Fountain House uses it in their own unique way, for their own purpose, however the feelings of gratitude, excitement, and hopefulness, run through our entire community.
Thank you to Cristina Foundation and Electronic Access for the work you do, we see real change in our members’ lives that you make happen!
Bevin Reilly, LMSW
Program Staff, Education Unit
Fountain House, Inc.